Joe Henderson: Nikki Fried’s financial error is just what Republicans wanted
Nikki Fried's launch video is going viral.

Nikki Fried launch video
She just gave opponents another wide-open line of attack against her.

We’ve all occasionally run into money issues. Maybe we misplaced our wallets or lost track of that $20 bill we stuffed in our pants pocket. Most of the time, it works out, and no one is the wiser.

But Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s money problem goes way beyond all that. She had to file an amended 2017 and 2018 financial disclosure showing she failed to report more than $350,000 in lobbying income.

Yikes!

“We amended our financial forms. It was an error we saw when we were working through my forms this year. Basically, what had happened, which was very simple, I gave my attorneys back in 2018 my salary for 2018,” she said on the radio show “Florida Roundup.”

“It was roughly six months of income from January to when I announced. And we realized that in 2017 gross income also included all of my business income and reimbursements, and that should have also been reported, not just my salary.”

In politics, the headline, more than the story underneath, is what gets you beat. And just a week since formally entering the race for Governor, Fried handed her opponents another headline.

It could have been an innocent mistake, but that may not matter. She just gave Republicans another wide-open line of attack, and you can bet they are gleeful.

Sen. Joe Gruters, also the chair of the Florida GOP, already called on the Legislature to investigate Fried.

Here are just some of the words you might see on top of stories about Fried in the coming months.

Ethics investigation! (Oh wait, that’s already there. Florida GOP Chair Evan Power filed a complaint against her).

Campaign finance violation! (see Gruters, Joe).

Mismanagement! (They’ll get around to that one).

I’m sure they will think of a few more.

You have to know that Republicans did opposition research on Fried since it became clear she wanted DeSantis’ job. To say they despise her puts it mildly.

In a fundraising appeal, Fried called it a “witch hunt.”

I hope she made sure what’s-his-name from Mar-a-Lago doesn’t hold a copyright on that phrase. Florida — indeed, all of America — begs you not to use those words in combination again. A grateful nation will thank you.

Meanwhile, there are only two ways to look at this situation.

If she willfully failed to disclose the income, it’s career-killing.

If it was an unforced error, OK, that’s better, but not by much. Sure, things like that happen. However, if she’s elected Governor, Fried’s management style will come under intense scrutiny. This situation won’t help, and you can place your bets now that it will come up again and again if she gets anywhere close to the nomination.

DeSantis isn’t Fried’s biggest political problem right now, though.

Charlie Crist has been cruising around the state, raising cash while throwing in a few shots at DeSantis. In short, he is behaving as an experienced politician should. His name is still out there, but not with exclamation-mark headlines.

A recent poll gave Crist a huge lead over Fried. Sure it’s way too early, but one thing stood out in that survey. Democrats desperately want to dispatch DeSantis, and they don’t believe (for now, anyway) that Fried can do that. That’s especially true if she has to spend too much time playing defense.

Only 14% in the poll said they believe she can win.

Blunders like the one Fried made will only reinforce that feeling.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


7 comments

  • Artwork

    June 7, 2021 at 8:08 pm

    Crashing and burning…….

    At least the Democrats are finding out about her before the election. Unlike Gillum. Can you imagine if that guy became our Governor. Is he in rehab now? Democrats seem to be scraping the bottom of the barrel with their candidates for Governor. Whoever they pick this time is just a sacrifice because DeSantis will crush them. That’s why Val Demings isn’t running for Governor. She would lose to DeSantis and she knows it.

    Reply

  • Artwork

    June 7, 2021 at 8:11 pm

    …oh, and Charlie Crist is a joke. Uninspiring, pandering, flip-flopping, career politician. He should just retire.

    Reply

    • forchristsake

      June 8, 2021 at 7:59 am

      anyone but DeSantis, love Charlie! Love Florida, need a govenor who cares about everyone, not just the wealthy.

      Reply

  • Tom

    June 7, 2021 at 11:11 pm

    Well said Joe, my compliments. Nikki Fraud is in a pickle. What a disastrous start. And yes a blue plate special has been handed to the Repubs. There are questions as well bout the new purchase of her home.

    Reply

  • Ron Ogden

    June 8, 2021 at 3:53 am

    The only way Weed, pardon me, Fried, stays aloft is if blogs like this one keep pumping hot air into her. Surely your P&L is in good enough condition that you can cut her off–for the sake of decency if nothing else.

    Reply

    • zhombre

      June 8, 2021 at 7:41 am

      Weed Woman may be a good name for her. LOL

      Reply

  • Tom

    June 12, 2021 at 10:04 pm

    Forchristsake, why don’t you figure it out.
    What did you want ? A lockdown Governor?
    Gov to tell you what time to go asleep and where to go. Spare us.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704